Felicity Elizabeth was baptized this morning into the Christian faith. We are so thankful for God’s continued kindness to us as a family. Please rejoice with us. Below is the basic outline of the baptismal service.
Celebrant: Blessed be God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit!
All: And blessed be his kingdom, now and forever. Amen!
Celebrant: The Lord be with you!
All: And with your Spirit!
Celebrant: Let us pray: Almighty and eternal God, who according to your righteous judgment did condemn the unbelieving world through the flood and in your great mercy did preserve believing Noah and his family, and who did drown hardhearted Pharaoh with all his host in the Red Sea and did lead your people Israel through the same sea on dry ground, thereby prefiguring this bath of holy baptism, and who through the baptism of your dear Child, our Lord Jesus Christ, have consecrated and set apart the Jordan and all water as a salutary flood and a rich and full washing away of sins: We pray through your same unbounded mercy that you will graciously behold this your child and bless her with true faith in the Spirit so that by means of this saving flood all that has been born in her from Adam and which she herself has added thereto may be drowned in her and engulfed, and that she may be sundered from the number of the unbelieving, preserved dry and secure in the holy ark of your Church, serve your Name at all times fervent in spirit and joyful in hope, so that with all believers she may attain eternal life according to your promise; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with You and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns unto ages of ages. Amen.
Baptismal Meditation and Exhortation
We do not baptize babies because they are cute. We do not baptize babies merely because we don’t want them to feel left out. We baptize our children because of the word of God. From our sermon text today, we read Jesus’ words: Then He took a little child and set him in the midst of them. And when He had taken him in His arms, He said to them, ‘Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me.’ (Mk. 9:36-37) And later in the same chapter, Jesus says: But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea. (Mk. 9:42) In a parallel passage, Luke 18:15-17, Jesus makes it explicit that He desires for all children to come to Him, even the infants. The challenging thing about these passages is that Jesus makes the faith of small children and infants the model of faith. We are too often just like the disciples and think that in order to be really “in”, to really “get it”, we have to be older and understand (or at least be able to say) lots of long theological words. But Jesus assumes that they already believe in Him, and his warning is not to children but to adults. You adults, Jesus says, better not cause one of these little ones to stumble.
Lastly, Jesus says that by receiving these little ones we receive Him, but in that process we are not really receiving Him but rather the One who sent Him. This means that baptism, particularly of little children, is always an invitation to the Father. We are here performing a grand reception, receiving the Son, receiving the Father, in the power of the Spirit. We are taking part in the dance of the Trinity, the giving and receiving that eternally characterizes the love and fellowship of God. And this means that this is all a great gift; it’s all grace, it’s all the wonderful, completely undeserved favor of the Triune God.
Therefore I charge you, Toby and Jenny, in the sight of these witnesses to be faithful in receiving Felicity as a sister in the Faith and by the grace of God, a model of faith. Encourage her and cultivate this faith in her more and more by praying with and for her, teaching her the holy doctrines of our faith, and bringing her up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Amen.
Celebrant: And now, being persuaded of the good will of our heavenly Father toward Felicity Elizabeth, declared by His Son Jesus Christ; let us faithfully and devoutly bring Felicity Elizabeth to enter into covenant with our loving and Holy God and embark upon a life of service in the household of God.
The Celebrant addresses the congregation
Celebrant: Do you, the people of the Lord, promise to receive Felicity Elizabeth in love, pray for her, help instruct her in the faith, and encourage and sustain her in the fellowship of believers?
Answer: We do, God helping us.
The Celebrant addresses the parents
Celebrant: Because Felicity Elizabeth cannot answer for herself, I therefore call upon you to answer in her stead: Do you, therefore, in the name of Felicity Elizabeth, renounce the devil and all his works, the vain pomp and glory of the world, with all covetous desires of the same, and the sinful desires of the flesh, so that you will not follow, nor be led by them?
Answer: I renounce them all; and, by God’s help, will endeavor not to follow, nor be led by them.
Celebrant: Do you believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth?
Answer: I believe.
Celebrant: Do you believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, Born of the Virgin Mary, Suffered under Pontius Pilate, Was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hell; The third day He rose again from the dead, He ascended into heaven, And sits on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; From there He shall come to judge the quick and the dead?
Answer: I believe.
Celebrant: Do you believe in the Holy Ghost; The Holy Catholic Church; The Communion of Saints; The Forgiveness of sins; The Resurrection of the body, And the life everlasting?
Answer: I believe.
Celebrant: Do you present Felicity Elizabeth to be baptized into this Christian faith?
Answer: I do.
(Name) I baptize you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. And may the blessings of the Triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit be upon you both now and forever. Amen!
All: Little child, for you, Jesus Christ has come, he has fought, He has suffered. For you he entered into the shadows of Gethsemane and the terror of Calvary; for you he uttered the cry “it is finished.” For you He rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, and there for you He intercedes. For you, even though you do not know it, little child, but in this way the Word of the Gospel is made true, “We love Him because He first loved us.”
Celebrant: Let us pray.
All: We give hearty thanks, most merciful Father, that it has pleased You to regenerate this Child with Your Holy Spirit, to receive this Child for Your own Child, to incorporate her into Your Holy Church and to set her apart as a servant of Your household. We humbly beseech You to grant, that she, being dead to sin, may live unto righteousness, and being buried with Christ in His death, may also be a partaker of His resurrection; so that finally, with the residue of Your Holy Church, she may be an inheritor of Your everlasting kingdom; through Christ our Lord. Amen.